What the FCC Did  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   December/January 2004

What the FCC Did   

By Charles Layton
Charles Layton (charlesmary@hotmail.com) is a former editor and reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and a former AJR senior contributing writer.     

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In its June 2 ruling on media consolidation, the Federal Communications Commission:

* Lifted a ban on companies owning a TV station and a daily newspaper in the same market. However, in the smallest markets--i.e., those with three or fewer stations--the cross-ownership ban remains.

* Allowed companies to own TV stations that together reach up to 45 percent of all households in the U.S. The old limit was 35 percent. However, in the case of UHF stations, a single company would be allowed to reach up to 90 percent of all households.

* Eased the rules on local TV ownership so that one company could own two stations in midsize markets and as many as three stations in the largest markets. However, only one of those stations could be in the top four in ratings.

* Kept in place a rule that prohibits mergers among the top four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox).

* Adjusted radio ownership rules to prevent one company from owning all of the local stations in a city. In markets with at least 45 stations, a company could own eight. In markets with 30 to 44 stations, a company could own seven. In markets with 15 to 29, a company could own six. And in markets with 14 or less, a company could own three.

Implementation of all these rule changes has been stayed by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, pending judicial review.

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